I had a great time in Zanzibar when I was eight. Searching for octopi in the turquoise reefs, indulging in the barefoot luxury of the white sand beaches, popping beers at wild soirees and cavorting with luscious locals…
Okay, maybe some of that wasn’t true. I was nine.
Anyway, Zanzibar is EPIC, and there is a whole lot of stunning atmosphere, extra-terrestrial marine life, and even a kite-surfing scene!
To truly enjoy the African magic that this tiny Island offers, you’re going to have to match it with an equally saucy place to stay. Do you want gorgeous sunsets? A private pool? A horde of coconut palms lining the entrance to your bathroom? Then you are going to need my awesome guide on where to stay in Zanzibar!
These are the best places that time and money can buy (even on a budget)…
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- Where to Stay in the Zanzibar
- Zanzibar Neighbourhood Guide
- Zanzibar’s 5 Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in
- 1. Stone Town – Where to Stay in Zanzibar for Your First Time
- 2. East Coast – Where to Stay in Zanzibar on a Budget
- 3. Nungwi (North Coast) – Where to stay in Zanzibar for Nightlife
- 4. Kendwa (North Coast) – Coolest Place to Stay in Zanzibar
- 5. South Coast – Where to Stay in Zanzibar for Families
- FAQs on Where to Stay in Zanzibar
- Final Thoughts
Where to Stay in the Zanzibar
Backpacking through Tanzinia and searching for that sweet Island break? These are our overall top picks for where to stay in Zanzibar.
Best Airbnb in Zanzibar – KIMA Zanzibar
Kima Zanzibar is a modern duplex metres from the stunning white sands of the Bwejuu beach. With room for four guests, a private pool, and an awesome outdoor terrace/garden space, there are few properties able to provide a more relaxing and enjoyable experience (even the best Zanzibar hotels). This property is usually booked up very quickly, so if you’re planning a trip, make sure you get in there fast!
Best Hostel in Zanzibar – Your Zanzibar Place
Situated in an the idyllic village of Paje, Your Zanzibar Place offers an unbeatable combination of relaxation and beach partying. With great access to the stunning east coast beaches, they are happy to organise every activity you could want to do whilst staying in Zanzibar (like kite-surfing, snorkelling, or touring). You get to stay in an authentic makuti banda (bungalow od woven leaves. It’s one of the best hostels in Zanzibar for sure.
Best Hotel in Zanzibar – Kizikula
The Kizikula can only be described as a hidden paradise. Located on the south coast near the village of Kizimkazi, the property is nicely removed from the hustle and bustle. It boasts lots of authentic nature, and beautiful coastal views of the Indian Ocean.
Zanzibar Neighbourhood Guide
The culture-rich town is easily accessible from both the port and airport and has good transport links to the other areas on the island. It is also the perfect location to learn about some of Zanzibar’s interesting history.
Home to arguably the most spectacular beaches and crystal clear waters on the island, the East Coast is well-equipped for visitors but doesn’t have the floods of tourists like in the North.
The most popular destination for travellers to Zanzibar, Nungwi is located on the northern tip of the island and is home to a great variety of beach bars and clubs.
A more relaxed area to is neighbour Nungwi, Kendwa provides stunning landscapes for guests with a ‘rasta’ vibe. Kendwa is also home to Zanzibar’s famous full moon party – a must-visit if you’re heading to the island at the right time.
The south coast is the perfect location if you like to travel off the beaten path. Home to exclusive beachside villas, you gain a sense of having the area to yourself.
Pristine white sandy beaches, jungle scenery, and a relaxed atmosphere have given Zanzibar the reputation of being one of the best destinations in the world.
Despite its relatively small size, the island has many different regions, all of which are very distinct and offer unique qualities to travellers. From hiking through luscious greenery, to diving beneath the waves into an underwater paradise – you won’t be short of amazing things to do.
Stone Town is the largest town on the island. It is the best place to stay in Zanzibar to discover the forgotten side, away from the commercial luxury beach resorts. If you want to absorb some of the island’s rich history and culture, spend your days exploring quirky buildings and cobbled alleys.
If you’re looking to zone out and find your ‘inner zen’ then the South Coast is the ultimate spot. An ‘off-the-beaten-path’ location with a tranquil atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to relax.
The East Coast is home to breathtaking backdrops and beautifully decorated beachfront villas. It also hasn’t been reached by too many tourists yet, so you’ll get a sense of having the area to yourselves.
Finally, we have the two most popular areas for travellers heading – Kendwa and Nungwi. Both have been drawing in tourists for years with their vibrant atmospheres, luxurious resorts and spectacular beaches. Nungwi is well known for having top-tier nightlife, while Kendwa’s atmosphere is more relaxed, y’know, wholesome holiday focused.
Zanzibar’s 5 Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in
And now for the good bit! There will be little need for any more destination inspiration after you’ve whizzed through these…
1. Stone Town – Where to Stay in Zanzibar for Your First Time
With Zanzibar’s incredible selection of world-class beaches, people tend to forget the island is full of fascinating culture and history! There’s no better place to explore this than the island’s largest town – Stone Town!
The quirky area is rich in culture and boasts stone-built restaurants and bars, lining cobbled alleys. The interesting town has easy access to those postcard destinations, making it a great place to stay for your first few days in Zanzibar.
Quick Tip! We’d recommend staying near the old town, as some neighbourhoods in the area can be a little sketchy.
Best Airbnb in Stone Town – David Livingstone’s Home
Offering a unique, beautiful, and very spacious apartment in the heart of Stone Town, this is a top-tier Airbnb, if you can swing it. With a Veranda overlooking the beach, sea and Forodhani Gardens, the sunsets here are truly magical. It has a superb walkable location and accommodates up to 2 guests. There is kitchen access, free wifi, and air conditioning (SO important).
Best Hostel in Stone Town – zLife Hostel
For those on a budget, we suggest zLife. It is within walking distance to plenty of restaurants and bars, as well as having good access to transport links. Heading to Zanzibar can be quite daunting as a solo traveller, so the team at zLife offer Swahili cooking classes and group activities to help you meet other travellers.
Best Hotel in Stone Town – Tembo House Hotel
The Tembo House Hotel has incorporated traditional Swahili designs into its beautifully decorated rooms, with wooden carved furniture including a four-poster bed. Located in the Old Town region of the city, Tembo House Hotel is within walking distance to Stone Town’s key cultural sites.
Things to Do in Stone Town:
- If you’ve only got a short time in Zanzibar, join a tour of pretty much everything there is on the Island.
- Explore Zanzibar’s history at the Old Fort
- Get lost in the confusing maze of the city streets, like a mini Marrakesh. Super vibrant, exciting and buzzy!
- Relax amongst greenery in Forodhani Park
- Take a boat trip to Prison Island
- Visit the Forodhani Gardens Food Market, and try some of Zanazibars amazing cuisine!
- Learn about Zanzibar’s sultans at the palace museum
- Take a Zanzibar spice tour
- Get comfortable at the Mrembo Spa, where you can go as bougie as you like…
- See the ruins of the house of wonders
2. East Coast – Where to Stay in Zanzibar on a Budget
The east coast of Zanzibar is the definition of laid back and cool, with its long stretches of flawless beaches which lie amongst backdrops of palm trees diving into the Indian Ocean. Debatably, the beaches are just as jaw-dropping as the popular northern coastline, which makes this area the ideal place to stay in Zanzibar if you want paradise, without the crowds.
Despite its relatively unknown charm, there are a variety of accommodation options on the east coast which meet different travellers’ criteria, below is a cherry-picked selection of our top picks!
Best Airbnb on the East Coast – Asali Beach House
Asali Beach House is a beautiful detached four-bedroom house located a few steps from the beach. The house’s key attraction is its breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean which you can see from every bedroom (the master is the best be sure to pinch this one if you’re heading as a group). A few minutes walk to the peaceful village of Jambinai, there are local eateries and bars for you to enjoy.
Best Hostel on the East Coast – Your Zanzibar Place
This hostel will leave you feeling ultimately serene. With access to some of the best beaches on the Island, this hostel can offer more than a lot of the top Zanzibar hotels. Think hammocks, beach parties, and deep-sea fishing. Anything you fancy, this hostel can organise. There is beach ball, kiting, slacklining, and even a dart board on offer.
Best Hotel on the East Coast – The Sands Beach Resort
The Sands Beach Resort is a luxurious hotel mid-way along Zanzibar’s east coast. It is home to a private swimming pool overlooking the waterfront, a private sandy beach, and multiple terraces providing breathtaking views. There is even a dive school onsite!
Things to Do on the East Coast:
- Relax on the area’s beautiful selection of white sand beaches, perfect for soaking up some rays and chilling out with a book
- Attempt kitesurfing (let’s be real your not going to learn it in a day)
- Visit the Monkey Hut ecosystem
- Take a tour of the amazing Jozani forest, home of the last Zanzibar red colobus monkeys. There’s an awesome mangrove forest nearby too!
- Go snorkelling at the Mnemba island atoll.
- Go on a beach bar crawl
- Holiday not wild enough? Then smash conception with some off-road quad biking!
- Go sailing on a local boat
- Visit the area’s best snorkelling spots
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3. Nungwi (North Coast) – Where to stay in Zanzibar for Nightlife
Probably the most popular area for visitors in Zanzibar, the north coast town of Nungwi provides visitors with the perfect mixture of spectacular beaches and vibrant nightlife.
Nungwi is littered with a variety of places to stay along with a plethora of restaurants, bars, and activity providers – there is plenty to do! This includes off-road buggying through sand dunes, scuba diving and sea kayaking.
Nungwi has proven popular as it is unaffected by the tide, and you can enjoy beach access all day long!
Best Airbnb in Nungwi – Mwambani Villa
With room for 8 guests, this is one of the top private villas on the north coast. With a rooftop terrace, hammock and bar area, this villa really goes the extra mile. Breakfast is served to you every morning, and staff are happy to help you out with any needs or questions you may have. Each bedroom is equipped with a private bathroom, and the property is just a ten-minute walk from Nungwi beach.
Best Hostel in Nungwi – Homeland Swahili Lodge
Homeland Swahili lodge is perfect for those who are ready to mingle! Home to a 10-bed dorm room, the lodge has a bustling atmosphere. Located just 10 minutes from Nungwi’s beach bars, and 700 meters from Baobab Tree, it’s perfect for those ready to explore.
Best Hotel in Nungwi – Aluna Nungwi
This jungle-style hotel has the perfect mix of traditional Zanzibar with a modern twist. The hotel is happy to organize an array of leisure including snorkelling trips, sunset cruises, and scuba diving. It is a great place to stay in Zanzibar if you want to spend your days exploring its incredible outdoors. It even has two swimming pools
Things to Do in Nungwi:
- Visit Baobab Beach Tree
- Go horse riding, and then swim with some turtles. Sounds like a good day right?
- Go on a sunset dhow cruise
- Relax on Nungwi Beach
- Go off-roading
- Party the night away at Cholo’s Beach Bar
- Go scuba diving
- Visit a turtle sanctuary, and go swimming with turtles!
4. Kendwa (North Coast) – Coolest Place to Stay in Zanzibar
Kendwa neighbours the more famous Nungwi, with slightly calmer vibes. Just off the coast are a great host of incredible coral reefs, making it a hotspot for snorkelling and diving. Nicknamed as having ‘rasta’ beach vibes, Kendwa has a great selection of beautiful beaches which are equipped with laid-back beach bars.
Despite its calmer atmosphere, a few times a year as the sun goes down Kendwa hosts incredible full moon parties attracting tourists from all over. If you’re heading to Zanzibar at the right time, it’s an incredible event to join!
Best Airbnb in Kendwa – Hamia Zanzibar Room 1.
Located on the outside of Kendwa Village, this villa is home to a quiet atmosphere in a private gated area. Only a ten-minute walk from the area’s charming beaches, Hamia Villa allows you to get the best of both worlds with a place to escape the busy beach bars. Rooms are equipped with large balconies, some of which have magnificent panoramic sea and garden views
Best Budget Accommodation in Kendwa – Ndiro Beach House Kendwa
Almost glued to the Kendwa beachfront, this fantastic beach house offers guests unfettered access to the sweet sweet ocean life. Offering a muted beach atmosphere, the rustic charm is complemented by a great price, perfect for people looking to chill out for a few cool days.
Continental breakfast is available every morning, and the property offers free wifi, terrace access, spacious rooms and private bathrooms.
Best Hotel in Kendwa – Kendwa Rocks Hotel
Primely located on Kendwa Beach, this hotel has guest rooms with breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. The hotel is surrounded by gorgeous, luscious gardens, and is home to a selection of activities to keep you entertained, including volleyball, snorkelling, and canoeing. This is the ultimate place to stay for adventure lovers!
Things to Do in Kendwa:
- Experience Zanzibar’s full moon party
- Relax on Kendwa Beach, which is stunning, and gets unbelievable sunsets.
- Try an open water diving course
- Let your hair down at Sunsea bar
- Go kayaking off the northern coast
- Fly high on a parasail
5. South Coast – Where to Stay in Zanzibar for Families
Zanzibar’s South Coast provides visitors with a rural and off-the-beaten-path adventure. What can be best described as the tranquil and peaceful part of the island, it is the perfect place to stay if you want to relax and explore the great natural beauty at your own pace.
Its lesser-known location means there are only a few accommodation options which can make you feel like you have the island to yourself.
This is where to stay in Zanzibar for those who want to try something new.
Best Airbnb on the South Coast – Deluxe Ocean View Suite – Villa Fleur de Lys BB
If you’re ready to take the plunge and go completely off the grid, this deluxe hotel is an incredible place to stay. Nestled on the southeast coast of the island of Makunduchi, the hotel is on a remote stretch of coastline away from any busy towns. The hotel prides itself on presenting tranquillity and extreme relaxation. Equipped with steps leading to a picture-perfect beach, and private pools offering mesmerizing ocean views- it’s a true hidden paradise.
Best Hostel near the South Coast – New Teddy’s on the Beach
Located in a picturesque fishing village, this budget accommodation is technically on the Island’s east coast, but is not far from the action of the south! They have a range of different sleeping arrangements available, making it great for couples and families too. This is one of the best places to stay in Zanzibar undoubtedly. There is a fantastic 18-metre swimming pool too!
Best Hotel on the South Coast – Kizikula
Kizikula is a hidden paradise at the end of a dusty road away from commercial buildings. What is best described as raw beauty, the hotel is an other-worldly experience. Equipped with a pristine outdoor swimming pool and a perfectly located viewing deck that overlooks the Indian Ocean- it’s a truly magical place to stay.
Things to Do in South Coast:
- Go snorkelling at Jambiani Beach
- Make a day trip to Stone Town
- Visit the crystal clear waters of Kuza Cave
- Delve into the Indian Ocean waters on a scuba diving trip to Uzi Island
- Relax on one of the many south coast beaches
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FAQs on Where to Stay in Zanzibar
Here’s what people usually ask us about finding a place to stay in Zanzibar
So, that’s the paradise island of Zanzibar! We hope we’ve helped you navigate where to stay in Zanzibar!
From backpacker hostels to luxury beachside resorts, there’s a slice of paradise for everyone. So, what are you waiting for? Get planning, this stunning Indian Ocean island is waiting for you to explore!
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